Divided on Eid al-Adha in Kenya

28th Sep 2018
Divided on Eid al-Adha in Kenya

Mbarak Abucheri

Thousands of Muslims in Kenya on August 21 joined their counterpart across the world to mark and celebrate Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice.

Thousands of faithful, dressed in their best converged in various places which included open grounds and mosques to offer prayers marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.

In Nairobi, a multitude gathered at the Sir Ali Muslim Club for the Eid al-Adha prayers which were led by the Imam of Masjid Abubakar, Easteligh, Sheikh Muhammad Umal.

In his sermon, Sheikh Umal exhorted Muslims to live by the values of Islam and embed the lessons derived from the Hajj and the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim in their lives.

“There are momentous teachings from the events of Hajj which include brotherhood, forgiveness, mercy and easiness of Islam. Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail peace be upon them are a role model for humanity whom we should also emulate,” he said.

Sheikh Umal said Eid is an opportunity to show kindness to the vulnerable in the society as he urged the faithful to reach out and support the less fortunate.

Calls for the establishment of the office of a Grand Mufti, to be in-charge of Islamic religious issues and Islamic calendar, were among the issues which came out during this years’ Eid celebrations. The call came after differences were observed during the Eid al-Adha where the event was marked on two different days.

According to Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, Muslims have failed to unite and speak in one voice when it comes to agreeing on the dates of important events in the Muslim calendar like Ramadan and Eid. In his comments during the Eid al-Adha prayers at Sheikh Zayed Centre in Mombasa, Balala proposed the establishment of the office of the Mufti to end the impasse.

“I will lead the Muslim faithful to organize a forum where we can discuss this matter so that we can have an office for a Mufti. We want to do this for the unity of Muslim faithful in the country,” he said.

Balala pointed out that the Chief Kadhi is challenged in making critical decisions affecting Muslims as this could contradict his constitutional role which as a judicial officer confines him to adjudicate on issues related to marriage, inheritance and divorce matters. “He cannot make the decision on other matters that are outside his jurisdiction.

Therefore, we need an office of the Mufti, who is a person highly scholarly and can make a decision on behalf of the Muslims,” said Balala.

“We necessarily do not need a legislation to have this office in place, because a Mufti is not a choice of the Government, but the choice of the Muslim. However, if the Government sees it fit to have the officer anchored in law, it will be much better and we shall lobby for that,” he added.

While many Muslims welcomed the Interior Cabinet Minister Fred Matiang’i decision to gazette Eid al-Adha as a public holiday, the Chief Kadhi Sheikh Ahmed Muhdhar sharply differed with the notice as it went against his proposed date of August 22. “I wrote to him before the announcement, indicating that Muslims would celebrate Eid on August 23 but he went ahead to declare August 21 a public holiday,” Muhdhar said.

National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale, took a swipe at the Chief Kadhi saying his pronouncement divided the Muslim community.

“The Chief Kadhi is out of order and should not divide the Muslim Umma in Kenya,” he said during Eid al-Adha prayers in Garissa. Duale urged the Chief Kadhi to stick to his constitutional mandate of adjudicating on Muslim personal law – marriage, divorce and inheritance. Speaking during the Eid Baraza event in Mombasa, the area governor Hassan Ali Joho advised Muslim leaders to handle the matter of differences with sobriety and avoid engaging in a game of mudslinging.

“We need to respect our leaders. Some of us prayed on Tuesday and we have not criticized those who took a different approach and prayed on Wednesday,” he said. Joho, alongside other leaders, who included former Senator Hassan Omar, observed the Eid prayers on August 21.

One Response to “Divided on Eid al-Adha in Kenya”

Qamar UddinOctober 1, 2018

Dear Sir,

Assalamulaykum. I read your “Divided on Eid al-Adha in Kenya” article in the Muslim News of 28 September 2018 with interest. I wish to inform your readers that Kenya is a non-Muslims country with just over 11% Muslims, which is no different from other countries with Muslim minorities where the Eid-ul Adha 1439 was also divided over two days (21 – 22 August 2018). This wasn’t the case at the end of Ramadan 1439 when most countries celebrated Eid-ul Fitr on the same day (15 June 2018).

The question arises, why was Eid-ul Fitr was united but Eid-ul Adha was divided? The answer to that question lies in understanding the fact that both the Eid-ul Fitr and Eid-ul Adha were celebrated by the Prophet Muhammad (S) with the sighting of the moon from 2 AH in Madinah when Ramadan became obligatory, well before Hajj became obligatory in 9 AH in Makkah.

However, there is a recent misconception that Eid-ul Adha is connected with Hajj in Makkah and whenever Saudi Arabia makes a mistake with moon sighting, such as was the case at the start of Dhul Hijjah 1439 (when the moon was not visible in Saudi Arabia or anywhere in the inhabited parts of the world on 11 August 2018), there is always a dispute with Eid celebration in other Muslim minority countries.

In conclusion, the correct date of Eid-ul Adha 1439 in Kenya (and throughout the whole world), was on 22 August 2018, even though the non-pilgrims within Saudi Arabia were obliged to celebrate Eid-ul Adha on 21 August 2018 for legal reasons. The advice of the Saudi scholars to foreign countries such as Morocco (or the UK) is to follow local moon sighting and not Saudi Arabia. For further information, please visit our Moon Sighting UK website (www.moonsighting.org.uk).


Qamar Uddin, York (UK)
Word count: 299 words


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